In addition to nonfiction essays submitted to the writing contest, some community members sent essays just for sharing. Here are two we had permission to publish, one from Lisa MacPherson and one from Sharon Jessup Joyce.
It’s a small cemetery, tucked away on a back road off the main road on the way to Peggy’s Cove in Seabright. If you weren’t from there, you wouldn’t know how to find it, really.
In summer, it is sun-dappled and the moss is soft underfoot. The blue dragonflies land on the headstones and on your shoulders when you stop to read the names and dates of the families who are resting there, most of them parents and children and grandchildren.
In winter, it is bleak, almost like it doesn’t want visitors, tries to discourage you from being there, but I go there because the memories of people I love and loved most in the world are resting there. They aren’t there, just their memories, but I feel closer to them when I go, and contrary to some who visit cemeteries, I don’t feel sad, just nostalgic.
This little cemetery has a little surprise for us though, or rather the neighbours do as we leave, and it is the best type of surprise. One that will put a smile on your face and make you glad you make the 30-plus kilometer trip from the city out to the country: goats.
Yes, goats and they are funny and happy, and they will run right over to the fence to say hi if you stop. Sometimes their antics are worth sitting and watching until your feet get cold, and you remember you have a warm car and a half-hour drive ahead of you.
This is my home, Seabright. There are other memories and places there I could have written about, but right now, in this space, I wanted to write about what makes me happy during a pandemic and goats in Seabright make me happy!
We selected Jayne Campbell’s “Mountain View” pastels to illustrate Lisa’s story. To read Jayne’s inspiration for her work, visit the Winter in the Bay online gallery and click on the image.
My Encounter with the Bear
Sharon Jessup Joyce
“You live in Hackett’s Cove, right? Watch out for the bear. This milder spell woke him up.”
In the short time I’d been living here, I’d learned this shopkeeper was a jokester, so I just nodded and pocketed my change.
“Think I’m kidding?” His eyes were serious. “Just be careful when you take your dog out at night.”
My husband still worked full-time at his Ontario job, and came here for only a week a month. Otherwise, I was alone, except for our elderly dog.
That night, when I took the dog out for a final walk on our unlighted road, the heavy cloud cover hid every bit of starlight. Beyond the bright circle of my big flashlight, the darkness was absolute. As a child visiting family in bear country, I had been told to make noise to deter bears. So I spoke loudly to the dog, letting my booted feet thump on the dark gravel road. Just in case.
Returning to the house, I realized I had forgotten to take the garbage out. Leaving the dog inside, I grabbed the garbage bag, and sprinted across our yard. As I got to the garbage hutch, I dropped the flashlight. The light immediately died.
In that instant, I heard something move behind me. Just behind me. So close, I could hear it breathing.
I spun around, my heart thudding in my ears. My mouth and throat opened wide, and I screamed so loudly my voice echoed off distant trees.
There was an answering bellow of alarm. A human bellow.
Not a bear, a man. He shone his cell phone flashlight on his face to reassure me of his benign intent and stammered out an apology for frightening me. He was staying with neighbours, he said, and liked a walk before turning in. I apologized for startling him. I didn’t mention the bear.
The next time I went into the store, the shopkeeper asked, “See the bear yet?”
“Nope,” I said, taking my change.
Sharon Jessup Joyce selected Patricia Lindley’s pastels on archival board to illustrate her story. To read Patricia’s inspiration for this work, go to the Winter in the Bay online gallery and click on its image.